The Border PHOTOS COURTESY YANCEY RICHARDSON GALLERY IN NEW YORK.
by Catherine Gavin
in Big Bend; vast, open spaces with trains running through them; lines of containers waiting to move here or there — the large-format photographs of Victoria Sambunaris (American, b. 1964) depict the harsh climate and evidence of trade along the U.S.-Mexico border. For more than a decade, Sambunaris has spent three to seven months a year traveling the United States with her five-by-seven wooden field camera and sheets of color negative film. Her most recent trek has taken her from Brownsville, Texas, to San Diego, Calif., and back, crossing the border at particular points along the way. Sambunaris’ focus is on the intersection of geology, politics, and culture; she looks intently at the landscape, collecting maps, geology books, and reference material along with mineral specimens, journals, and road logs throughout her journey. “Texas has been a big subject matter for me,” said Sambunaris. “It is the state where I have traveled the most.” The Río Grande River plays a prominent role in the photographs of the state, as do trade, industry, and transportation. From 2009 to 2010, Sambunaris’ photographs explored the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on the international border; her work in 2011 focused on wildfires in West Texas. She is currently developing a series on the presence of the energy industry along the Texas Gulf Coast. Steep, arid river banks
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